Channel Opportunities Within the Finance Sector

The finance sector is a highly competitive global marketplace.  It is also one of the most heavily regulated with organisations under constant scrutiny to adhere to continued governance such as PCI compliance, Dodd-Frank Act compliance, MIFID II Compliance, and GDPR compliance.

Cyber Security is a top priority as organisations strive to prevent cyber-threats, hackers and malware.  The finance sector is a big target due to the nature of their global businesses.  And if these companies don’t protect their customers, they will lose their trust, and a poor reputation could be more harmful to a brand than any fine.

The pace of change in this sector encourages early adoption of new technology, as they strive to increase workforce mobility and remote working, improve customer interactions and maximise customer satisfaction, whilst driving down costs.  The more established firms are working to move from legacy, locally built communication tools to cloud solutions for flexibility and scale.  In our role as a cloud services provider, we encourage our reseller channel partners to take these challenges into consideration when selling into this sector.

In terms of technology buying, we believe the most emphasis to be on cloud communications, security, data storage and compliance. In a world where the cloud is becoming increasingly important, and communication strategies are growing more diverse and complex, security protection will require continual investment.  The finance sector will always be a target because of the nature of their global business, so they need to be constantly testing for resilience and vigilant in preparing for attacks.

Security in the cloud environment is at it’s strongest when everyone in the supply chain is aware of the part that they have to play.  Resellers should consider security as a value proposition that can differentiate their business from competitors.

In terms of compliance, resellers must focus on providing tools that assist their finance customers to achieve compliance, such as audit and monitoring tools.  This sector has a legal requirement to record calls, so providers must ensure that call recording technology is up to the job, safe, secure and will protect as well as meet regulatory compliance needs.  Data needs to be stored securely whilst being accessible to the right people and adhering to company data storage policy.

Training will continue to attract investment in 2018. This applies to reseller staff as well as customer employees. Education and awareness amongst staff around highly evolving technology is needed to ensure they are trained and vigilant, and most importantly that they can use it properly to adhere to compliance.

Resellers must continually have one eye on the horizon looking at what might impact their clients’ business – not just today but what might happen in two to three years’ time.

Trends and Opportunities

This is a fast-changing market that is particularly impacted by the growth of millennials.  These younger financial customers demand 24/7 support and instant access via omni-channel communications.  However, there is still a need to cater for the aging population who may not be so technologically advanced. Financial organisations and their providers must not lose sight of their customers’ wide variety of needs and more specifically, to bear in mind that the phone still plays a big part in customer service today.  The phone remains the single communication tool used by every profile type.

Personalisation of services is another growing trend. Communicating to such a widely segmented market can be a challenge but fortunately, as communications move into the cloud it also becomes easier to gain insights and thus improve personalisation.

The main challenge resellers face in this market is having to maintain their knowledge of ever-evolving compliance and increased regulation around continuous monitoring. They must understand the challenges faced by the market and educate themselves. Those with experience in delivering agile cloud solutions and mobility will be best-placed to gain a full understanding of the compliance needs in the finance sector.

Resellers will need to demonstrate their skills and knowledge to their finance customers and be able to show that they can deliver solutions to real-world problems, adding value to their proposition. This requires highlighting work done elsewhere to build credibility.

The increase in cloud adoption opens more ‘doorways’ into their networks, increasing threats of attack and raising yet further the importance of security.  As a result we are seeing more vetting and due diligence by the end customer back along the supply chain, for example ISO 27001, data protection, privacy, ‘assurance-as-a-service’, validation of encryption, resilience and security.  Resellers will need a highly qualified set of products and services that have security and compliance requirements built-in, to deliver piece of mind.

Reseller partners need to go the extra mile to build assurance into their proposition so that if/when a fintech customer is targeted, they know they have the backing and support of a supplier that has built fully-documented processes and substantiated security into the proposition.  It must be scalable and resilient.

Resellers must incorporate demonstrable capacity to recover quickly from a major outage or breach into their propositions – this means they must be able to show how customers can bounce-back and recover after an attack and resume business-as-usual within acceptable timescales.  It is not enough to rely on the end customer to do risk assessment, it has to be central to the proposition in order to minimise reputational damage. This should cover route-cause analysis and stress test the proposition to prove their ability and backup mechanisms, such as being able to flip from on-premise to cloud ICT.

This focus will require resellers to look for peer-to-peer relationships with suppliers who offer similarly relevant propositions.

In the near to mid-term we expect to see more adoption of cloud services. The reseller’s portfolio is moving from being physical to more of a managed service, with growth in secure resilient clouds for hosted applications.

We expect it to become harder for organisations to build their own applications in their own data centre as requirements become more complex, so many will turn to delivery as a service, where much of the support, resilience and compliance is built-in. One huge benefit of cloud services is the ability for resellers to gain valuable analytics and insights across multiple customers.  Cloud services are quick and easy to provision, support and manage, with no on-site installation and the ability to on-board customers in seconds.

As an iCT reseller the delivery of cloud communications, security of networks and data storage must be part of the core offering.  It is important to highlight that many of the issues facing finance are applicable to other sectors, including the heavy focus on regulation.

Security as a whole is now a critical component of any communications plan. In the past, we might have considered security to be just another beneficial feature, but today’s customers no longer treat security as a luxury.

As featured in Comms Dealer